If you suffered a disability as a veteran and, over time, your condition has grown worse, you may be able to increase your VA disability rating. If you have filed for an increase in your disability rating and have been denied one of our skilled VA benefits attorneys can evaluate your case.
How Do You Increase Your VA Disability Rating?
Once your claim for disability benefits has been approved, you can request an increase in your VA rating whenever you need one. The VA is well aware that a veteran’s condition can grow worse over time, and that as you age this is more likely to happen. All you need to do to seek an increase in your VA disability rating is to request the VA review your rating and provide evidence that your condition is worsening.
How the Combined Disabilities Rating Calculation Works
To determine a veteran’s qualification for benefits, the VA rates the extent of that veteran’s service-related disability in 10% increments, going from 0% to 100% (e.g. 10%, 20%, 30%, etc.). Many veterans, especially as they age, have multiple disabilities, which the VA rates as “combined disabilities.”
However, the combined disabilities rating calculation is not a straightforward system. For example, a disability rated at 20% and a second disability rated at 30% yield a combined rating of 44%, according to the VA’s Combined Ratings Table – not 50%, as you might expect. Further, once you reach a disability rating of 80%, each additional disability then increases the combined rating by only 2% for each additional 10% rating.
In other words, ratings of 80% and 10% combine to make 82%, ratings of 80% and 20% combine to make 84%, and so on.
Is It Possible to Receive a 100% Disability Rating?
The VA makes achieving a 100% disability rating difficult, but not impossible. However, the VA will pay certain veterans 100% disability compensation, even if the VA has not rated their service-related disabilities at the total level. This compensation program is known as Total Disability for Individual Unemployability (TDIU), and it was established for disabled veterans who are unable to obtain or maintain substantially gainful employment because of their service-related disability.
Individual unemployability requires the veteran to have one disability rated at 60% or more or, if more than one disability exists, one disability ratable at 40% or more with a combined rating of 70% or more. The VA will grant TDIU benefits to veterans who don’t meet the rating requirements, though the evidentiary requirement is slightly higher.
If you have been unable to find and keep a job that provides substantially gainful employment, then it may be in your best interests to explore TDIU. The veterans’ disability lawyers at George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers can help you compile evidence the VA requires for the maximum disability rating. This may include job records and affidavits from former and/or prospective employers, as well as medical records and expert vocational consultant reports.
What Evidence Can You Use to Prove Your Condition Is Getting Worse?
One of the most important pieces of evidence you can use to prove your disability is getting worse is your medical records. You can use records from a VA hospital or another public or private military service hospital. Records that reflect your hospitalization, medications, and treatment plans including therapy, are crucial to proving your case.
The good news is that you’ve already been approved for your initial claim, so you don’t have to go to the lengths this time around that you did when you initially had to show your disability. You simply need to provide proof that things have changed, and if you have difficulty obtaining this proof, one of our skilled VA attorneys can help you get it. In addition to updated medical records, the VA may also require you to undergo a medical exam with one of their appointed medical professionals, so it is good to be aware of that ahead of time.
What Forms Do You Need to Fill Out to Request an Updated Rating?
The forms you need to fill out to request a re-evaluation differ based on where you initially received treatment. For instance, if you received care at a VA or military service healthcare facility, you need only to fill out Form 21-526EZ, which asks for the name(s) of the site(s) where you received treatment so they can be contacted to verify your information.
If, however, you received treatment at a civilian facility, then you will also need to fill out Form 21-4142, which is, in essence, a HIPAA form. This form is required for the authorization of the release of your medical records. It also gives permission for your physicians to confer with the VA.
How Much Time Do You Have to Request an Increase?
The timing of your request for a change in VA disability rating is crucial. If it has been over a year since you were granted benefits, then you can request the benefits using the forms and procedures above. If, however, it has been less than a year and your condition is already worsening or you disagree with the decision, you need to appeal the initial decision, which becomes a lot more complicated.
Not to worry – our experienced Veterans Law attorneys know how to navigate the appeals process which can be otherwise confusing and intimidating. Not only can we save you time and headaches, but we may also be able to get you additional compensation sooner than if you had tried to file a claim without a lawyer.
Contact an Attorney for Help with Increasing Your VA Disability Rating
Your disability rating is tied directly to the compensation you can receive from the VA. Contact us for assistance obtaining a higher VA disability rating. We work on contingency, so you don’t have to pay a fee unless we are successful on your claim.